Activists should strike a balance between sense and sensibility

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 August, 2007, 12:00am

Like your correspondent J. Y. K. Cheng ('Some pier protests have gone too far', August 1), I do not subscribe to the arguments put forth by the Queen's Pier activists.

Protesters clamouring for heritage protection obstructed the removal of the pier to defend its historical and cultural value.

They appeal to public sympathy, citing the potential loss of 'collective memories' of an anchorage at the waterfront.

The Star Ferry Pier, which had a much longer history, wider patronage by Hong Kong people and hence a much bigger monumental value, eventually gave way to established town planning needs.

Traffic jams along Admiralty and Hennessy Road have for many years played havoc on thousands of commuters.

Public transport passengers in particular are daily suffering from long queues of snarling traffic and intolerable waiting in jam-packed buses. Compare the well being of the travelling masses with the sentimental value of Queen's Pier, the priority is crystal clear.

Discussion and planning for the Central and Wan Chai reclamation project have been going on since the 1980's. To further delay the construction work would result in a loss of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money.

The showdown between the activists and the government over the demolition of Queen's Pier has once again revealed a disturbing trend in the exercising of our civic rights.

The submission to the High Court seeking a judicial review of the government's decision at the eleventh hour, further pushed the political road show to a new height that can only do prolonged damage to the public at large.

As a responsible government, the administration should work hard to ensure that in future no one can ride roughshod over public interest and social progress in the name of 'freedom of expression'.

In face of irrational demonstrations, all civic-minded citizens should strike a balance between sense and sensibility, and do what they can to help preserve community peace and harmony.

Patsy Leung, Mid-Levels